NHL 2003
Genre Sport -> Sport
Today's Rank 54
Date 2002-10-02
Publisher Electronic Arts
Date 2005-08-23
Publisher Electronic Arts
North America Retail Box ArtUnited Kingdom Retail Box ArtThe rather disappointing NHL 2003 is, in all truth, NHL 2002 plus a few shiny bits. The new features for 2003 are an improved franchise mode, which has more of the hardcore managerial events to deal with, such as annual drafts, player waivers, more injuries and suspensions, and more Easter eggs and celebrations to unlock with the NHL cards rewards system. One major gameplay change has been added: the "Gamebreaker" is simply a power bar which slowly energises as you play, and once full a quick button press will allow you to pull off some pretty funky moves. Also improved is the in-game physics--the puck now rebounds off defenders and sticks with more realism. One main criticisms is that the overly comic commentators have really dumbed the game down; there are to many Matrix-style slow-motion effects on saves, goals and checks; and for some reason the create-a-player option lacks the function to add a photo of yourself to the game, a strange thing for EA to leave out as it had been so popular in previous NHLs. Unlike the previous versions, the menu screens have been re-jigged to tempt the online player with more and more functions and features for online play. NHL 2003 plays fantastically and is one of the finest sports games to grace PC screens anywhere; the presentation is top notch and most of the stats are up-to-date (although yet again many of the minor international squads still have imaginary players). But the new tweaks aren't really enough to justify shelling out full price if you already own last year's version--a lesson EA should have learnt after finally getting FIFA right this time. If you're a NHL completist or a hockey fan, or have never played NHL before, then this game over is for you. If you've already got NHL 2002 then make up your mind if you can do without this version's new features. --Laurent S Hall
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